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My Brother's Book

Maurice Sendak issues a valedictory and visionary new work.

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My Brother's Book
By Maurice Sendak
HarperCollins
32 pages

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Reviewed by Liz Rosenberg for the Barnes & Noble Review

When I heard the news of Maurice Sendak's death last spring, I felt the stricken, heartsick sadness normally reserved for family and friends. Mr. Sendak, a stranger to me, was of course neither – and he was both. Winner of, among other honors, the 1964 Caldecott Medal, the 1970 Hans Christian Andersen Award, and a National Medal of Arts, Sendak has famously insisted that he never set out to write books for children. "I write, and somebody says, 'That's for children,' " he told Stephen Colbert in a television interview. 

No one should claim that his posthumous work, My Brother's Book, is for children. Let me make that clear from the outset. This is not a children's book. Most kids would be bored and bewildered by it, stirred and vaguely disturbed. Being a bona fide former child myself, that was my own first reaction. The text, with its Shakespearean undertones, confused me. The images looked eerie and both too much like and too much unlike William Blake. But that was only a first, foolish impression – my own dimwitted attempt to force the book into being something it was not: intended for children. 

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